What if every engineer thought like an artist? 

Breaking out of one’s own bubble challenges the brain and changes attitudes. This is why arts courses at Aalto are available to everyone. 

Creative writing, island workshops and visual thinking, but also drones, 3D modelling and game design. 

‘Here you have to always have your radar up, ready to pick up any signals’, says Professor Harri Laakso. He leads the Aalto University UWAS arts courses, which are open to everyone and which included last academic year a total of 30 courses. 

‘The basic idea is to teach artistic activity and thinking and to support in this way the interdisciplinary nature of the university. The content of the courses is always designed in such a way that each student can approach the topic from the perspective of their own major’, Laakso explains. 

The UWAS courses have seen enthusiastic participation from students from all of Aalto’s six schools. Project Manager Juuso Tervo emphasises that the objective is to encourage and teach the students to take a broad perspective on the phenomena they are dealing with. 

‘The basics of Photoshop can even be learned from YouTube. We can instead take as our course topic something like drones, which can be examined from so many different angles: photography, monitoring, technology, urban space and so on.’ 

According to Laakso, one of the most important things that the UWAS courses offer is the opportunity for students from different fields to come together around a shared theme. 

‘In projects in working life, many business people and engineers work together with artists and designers, so it is valuable for students to have experience of this kind of cooperation. In their feedback, students have also been grateful for the way that they have been pulled out of their own bubbles, drawn out of their comfort zones and challenged to think in a new way. One person who participated in the workshop held on Örö island said that they had never been involved in anything like it. The fact that we can offer memorable experiences is perhaps one of the most important things about these courses.

About UWAS


  • In the 2016–2017 academic year, 15 UWAS courses were held. A total of 222 students participated, including 28 from the School of Business, 19 from the School of Electrical Engineering, 23 from the School of Engineering, 68 from the School of Science, 16 from the School of Chemical Engineering and 68 from the School of Arts, Design and Architecture. 
  • This academic year a total of 30 courses will be held. The courses are designed so that they connect with broader themes such as sensory experience, materials, environments, stories and technologies. 
  • Coming up in the future will be courses on topics such as game design and creative programming. 
  • Working group: Professor Harri Laakso, Project Manager and Postdoctoral Researcher Juuso Tervo and study coordinator Mari Partanen.
  • Further information: uwas.aalto.fi